Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 23: The blessed pajamas

Ryan is becoming strongly opinionated about things these days.  Particularly, the clothes he wears.  I thought having a boy would relieve me of this challenge, but alas, it has not.  On Wednesday, after 30 minutes of battling nap time, Ryan came downstairs, and with a sheepish grin, held up his favorite pair of jammies, requesting to put them on.  Given the fact that they're his favorite, he's naturally worn them a horrendous number of times.  Now couple that with the fact that he outgrew them 4 months ago, and you can imagine their current state!  If I were smart, I would have hid these away in a tupperware container weeks ago where he couldn't find them.  Although I suppose he would have just found another excuse to prolong the nap process. 

Normally I would have sent Ryan right back up to his room, but by this point I was so desperate for him to sleep that I didn't care to fight it.  "Fine!", I said.  "Put on a pair of pajamas at 2:00 in the afternoon if that's what it's gonna take!"  And so, off came his shirt and jeans and on went the jammies.  And guess what?  That was all it took!  He marched right back to his room, and without another peep, fell fast asleep!

Near the end of his nap time, I headed outside to vacuum my car.  Chloe stayed in until Ryan woke up, and then they both joined me outside, Ryan still sporting the jammies, of course.  I had to giggle, especially at his toes, which hung out of the holes they'd both created in the feet of his jammies.  As I vacuumed, the kids played on the sidewalk with some neighborhood friends, and across the street, 2 neighborhood moms gabbed to one another.  As I'd every so often glance in Ryan's direction to make sure he was being watched by the older kids, it suddenly dawned on me that the 2 moms had probably seen Ryan, had probably noticed he was wearing jammies at 4:30 in the afternoon, that his jammies had holes in the toes, and that the toes were painted with red nail polish.  For a moment a sense of embarrassment came over me.  "How does the sight of my son reflect the kind of mother I am?", I thought.  But just as quickly as the embarrassment fell upon me, it left me, and I realized I didn't care.  At all.  If those moms wanted to assume he'd been in his jammies all day long because I was too lazy to put him in clothes, so be it!  Goodness knows it wouldn't have been the first time that's happened!  And if they wanted to think I was a freak for allowing my son to have painted toe nails, well, they could do that too!  The important thing in all of this is that it really doesn't matter what others think.  I know I take care of my son, and I fulfill his needs.  And sometimes fulfilling his needs means giving him some control.  I hope those moms saw Ryan and chuckled because they could relate.  But if they didn't, that's okay. 

I will have you know that I put those blessed pajamas away today, never to be seen again, unless Ryan has a brother someday. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 22: "A mommy daddy daughter son date!"

Yesterday afternoon we took the kids to see 'Tangled' at the dollar theater.  Yes, we are cheap parents who wait until movies either show up at the dollar theater or Redbox to see them.  I'd been itching to see this movie as had Chloe, so it was a highly anticipated event.  It also happened to be Ryan's first movie theater experience.  As we got settled in our seats before the previews began, Chloe leaned over to me and excitedly whispered, "Mommy!  This is like a mommy daddy daughter son date!" 

Ryan fell asleep in my lap before the movie even started and slept through the entire movie!  He was even snoring!  I must admit, while I know he would have thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I quite enjoyed holding my sleeping baby boy.  It's such a rare occurrence these days, so whenever it happens I relish it.

{taken after the movie with the theater in the background}

'Tangled' was awesome.  I especially loved Maximus' character.  And, I'll admit, I cried at the end.  Good stuff, and definitely a movie I plan to own!  Go see it if you haven't!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 21: Feet

They say a photo is worth a thousand words.  Well, if this photo could talk, it would probably mutter a few remarks about a sticky floor beneath the table these two darlings sit at, where a few hours earlier they each enjoyed a popsicle; a whining child who will only eat his hot dog if he can cut it up himself, and who prefers coating his entire hand with salad dressing so he can lick it off only to then whine some more because his hand is now sticky! Meanwhile another whining child "can't" eat all of her hot dog because she just sneezed on it and now, "it has germs."  And let's not forget the feet.  Yes, the feet.  One's got his on the table as he finally gives in and eats his hot dog, while the other's got hers in midair as she stubbornly lays on the chair, refusing to eat the hot dog she just sneezed on.

THIS, my friends, represents dinner at our house! 

If Grandpa Butterfield had been our guest, these stinkers would have had butter on their toes long before they finished their dinner, giving them just one more thing to whine about!

Day 20: Pretty purple flowers

I didn't do much with my camera Sunday.  Busy day, as most Sundays are.  When we got home from church and before our friends came over for dinner, I snuck out to the front yard to snap this shot for Day 20's picture.  Looking at it now, the center of the photo is entirely void of flowers.  Oh well.  It works.  


It is so bizarre to see flowers in my front yard in February!  I'm used to snow drifts and freezing winds, not blossoms and t-shirt weather!  I do miss Colorado, still, but I will have to say I'm really enjoying the warmth.  I can't wait to play with my camera in the blossoming orchards.  They are looking gorgeous, and I can only imagine what another month will do.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 16 (5 days later): Zumba Goddess

My friend, Pam, whom I work with in Young Women and whose family Neil home teaches, recently became certified to instruct Zumba.  In the process she started teaching one class each week at the church so she could "practice" on some of her friends.  I had been wanting to try Zumba for several months so when I learned she was doing this I was overjoyed.  It really is so fun, and she's a natural at it.

Pam recently approached me about doing some pictures for her profile page on Zumba Fitness' site, so last Wednesday we got together for a mini session.
I have really enjoyed getting to know Pam.  She is a warm and giving person, always looking out for others.  It was fun photographing her, and I can't wait to get my Zumba on again soon!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day 19: Up close and personal

In the midst of playing their newly made up game of "train" (involving the dining room chairs and a little imagination), "helping" me sweep the kitchen floor, eating corn dogs and grapes, and painting toe nails (yes, that includes Ryan's), the kids paused for a few seconds to let me grab this shot.  Sure do love 'em.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 18: A bowl of memories

This bowl, while silly, simple and nothing special to look at, holds great value to me.  This bowl, and 3 other bowls like it once resided in my Grandpa and Grandma Halliday's dining room cabinet in their Palo Alto home. 

As far back as I can remember, they had these and I'd eat my breakfast out of one each time I visited.  It's funny how one simple object can bring back a flood of childhood memories, isn't it?  I'm glad I have this bowl to make me smile each morning, and to remind me of the wonderful grandparents I have.

{Day 16 is in the works.  I'll post it tomorrow.}

Day 17: Sportin' Mom's iPod

Chloe thinks she's pretty hot stuff when I let her listen to my iPod shuffle.  Neil even gave her an old pair of headphones, which she wears with pride as she hums through the house blasting my tunes in her ears.  Some of her current faves include: Milkshake's 'ABCs of Me', Jenny Oaks Baker's 'A Child's Prayer', Alanis Morissette's 'Everything' (Radio edit, of course), Priscilla Ahn's 'Dream', Coldplay's 'Life in Technicolor', and Linkin Park's 'Waiting on the End'. 

It's moments like these where my little girl knows and enjoys some of our favorite artists that I realize she's growing up way too fast! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My idea of serenity

Sunday evening we took the kids on a long bike ride. We started on the asphalt trail behind our neighborhood and eventually worked our way toward the dirt trail Neil and I discovered last Friday. It was still just as beautiful as I remembered. If I could lift our house off its lot, carry it a mile and a half to this field of wonderful and place it there, I think I could be quite content. I got a little carried away with pictures, but sheesh! Can you blame me? I kept waiting for Mr. Darcy to peek out from behind a tree! :)

These first two were taken from above the trail, which is why you see more tree branches than meadows.

The kids seemed to enjoy the ride.  How could they not?

Stanislaus River at sunset

I am grateful I have such easy access to this scenic beauty.  The peace and calm it gives me is priceless.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Preschool Party

More from the preschool party last Thursday...

Decorating cookies is fun!  Eating them is even more fun!

Chloe, so excited to give and receive Valentines while Ryan decorates his cookie.

Chloe, exchanging Valentines, showing off her cookie and hugging her teacher, Miss Sheryl.

Hanging with pals, Austin and Ty. 

Chloe was one happy girl!  I think she wishes every day was Valentine's Day!

Valentine's FHE

Since Monday turned out to be so full we pushed Family Home Evening to Tuesday.  The topic, of course, was LOVE.  I cut out a large red heart and stuck it to a chair.  Then each family member stood on the heart while everyone in the room took a turn to share what they loved about that person. 

The kids loved standing on the heart, but also loved sharing what they loved about each person.  Here's some of what was said. Ryan didn't exactly catch on, but he did participate! :)

Neil: "I love Chloe because she is a good helper."
Valeri: "I love Chloe because she is cheerful."
Ryan: "Mommy!"

Chloe: "I love Ryan because he plays games with me and lets me help him brush his teeth."
Neil: "I love Ryan because he's cuddly."
Valeri: "I love Ryan because he has a sweet and tender nature."

Chloe: "I love Daddy because he plays games with me sometimes."
Valeri: "I love Daddy because he supports me as a mommy and allows me to be at home with you guys!"
Ryan: "bath!" ??

Chloe: "I love Mommy because she cooks for us and gives me a bath and puts these decorations up."
Neil: "I love Mommy because she takes such good care of our family."
Ryan: "Daddy!"

After our little activity, we enjoyed chocolate fondue. So good!  Surprisingly, Ryan was more into the dipping than the eating. Either way, I think it was a big hit and something we'll definitely do again!

The kids also received a little treat in the mail from their great grandparents yesterday.  Chloe was so excited to put her dollar in her piggy bank. Thank you, Grandpa Don and Grandma Jean!

{that's strawberry syrup on Ryan's nose - too cute to remove in photoshop}

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  I will post more pictures from Chloe's preschool party shortly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day 15: Rough Life

Here's how Mr. Cool occupies himself while sister's at preschool.

Rough life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 14: In a nutshell

Valentine's Day 2011 in a nutshell: 

Got up way too early (6:24am to be exact - thank you, C & R).  Made breakfast: heart shaped pancakes with sliced strawberries and bananas, boysenberry syrup, powdered sugar and whipped cream.

Took the kids to Jo-Ann's to let them pick out fabric for their "Valentine's surprise".  In other words, waited too long to go to Jo-Ann's by myself to pick out their fabric so that it actually would be a surprise.  So to cover up my procrastination, made it appear as though their choosing their own fabric was part of the plan all along.  They didn't know the difference and thought it was great.  Ryan chose trains.  Big surprise.

Came home.  Made lunch: heart shaped grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.

Hung these.

Ate some of these.

Kissed Neil.  A lot.  Didn't get a picture of that, sorry.

Fought Ryan on a nap for 1 hour and 45 minutes before finally defeating the stubborn kid.  Sent Chloe outside to play and [hurriedly] sewed the kids' gifts: rice bags.  They are constantly taking mine, and, inevitably fighting over it, which is what gave me the brilliant idea to make them each one of their own.  Now we can all have warm toesies!

Called Chloe in and got Ryan up from his nap. 

Ate our Papa Murphy's heart-shaped pizza for dinner as a family (and forgot to take a picture of it).

Presented the kids' Valentine's gifts to them and smiled watching the pure delight in their eyes.

Had planned on chocolate fondue for dessert but was way too tired (as were the kids) and decided to postpone until tomorrow.  Put happy kids to bed (each wearing their new sunglasses), watched Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother with my honey, wrote this blog post, did not edit any pictures because I was too tired, and will most likely post this tomorrow when I have the energy to get back to said pictures.  Goodnight!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 13: {Sweetsmelling} Treats

This is what I gave my young women today at church.

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.   ~ Ephesians 5:2

May we remember tomorrow, as we celebrate LOVE, who was and is the greatest example of it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 12: Fire truck the ladybug

Neil and Chloe found a ladybug in the backyard today.  Chloe immediately asked if she could keep it and raced into the house to find a mason jar.  When I came downstairs she proudly displayed her new "pet" and announced that his name (since her last "pet" was a girl) would be Fire truck!  That's right.  Fire truck. 

We put some grass in the jar and Fire truck now resides on her dresser.  Highlight of Chloe's day, for sure! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 11: A happy trail

Neil and I took a bike ride this morning after dropping the kids off at playgroup.  It was wonderful!  I have been itching to get outside and do something all week.  My right knee started hurting last Thursday evening, and after Friday's run I knew I needed to take it easy for a few days.  Monday I attempted a run/walk, but I was only able to run the distance of one block before I had to stop.  It is so discouraging because I've worked hard to get where I am and don't want to lose the endurance or distance I've gained.  I think the explanation is plain and simple: I did too much too soon and now I'm paying for it.  3 miles in only 2 1/2 weeks of running is quite a jump, and while from a breathing perspective I handled it with no problems, I don't think my muscles and joints liked it too much.  I have missed running and the liberation it's given me.  But I realize I need to take it slow and allow my body to fully acclimate before I throw a 5k at it!  I know the situation will eventually resolve itself.  I just hope it's sooner than later because I'm anxious to get back out there! 

In an attempt to maintain some level of activity, we've been taking walks and bike rides this week. None of it has even remotely compared to the satisfaction of a good run, but it's been better than nothing.  There is an asphalt trail behind our neighborhood which we've been talking about exploring for months now.  This morning seemed like a great time to finally embark on the journey since Neil was home and the kids were not!  When we approached the entrance to the trail, we noticed a second trail going the opposite direction.  Unlike the first trail, this one was purely dirt and rock, and looked more narrow and bumpy.  Now normally I'm the safe and boring bike rider, preferring flat and wide roads.  Mountain biking is not the least bit appealing to me.  And while this trail was no "mountain," it also wasn't the safe, generic type that I'd normally look for.  So what on earth drew me in?  Perhaps it was the fact that it was absolutely breathtaking!  Yep, that about sums it up.  It didn't matter what lay ahead.  We were taking that trail! 

In the 3 minutes it took to get from the main road to the trail entrance, I felt as though I'd gone from riding my bike down a common, unexciting street in Ripon, CA to suddenly gliding through a luscious countryside.  Grass and trees surrounded us, and we were secluded from anything man made.  The trail also ran parallel to the Stanislaus River, which just made the whole experience that much cooler.  Several times during our ride, Neil and I commented to each other how gorgeous and scenic it was, and how we couldn't believe this area existed only a mile or two from our house!  The sun was filtering through the trees, and was warm but not hot.  I mean it really was just perfect.

Here's a photo of the trail I found online, just to give you an idea...

Eventually the trail ended just underneath the highway.  At that point we rode up and down a bridge and then headed back towards the house.  It was very relaxing overall, but my heart rate did get up there at times and I could definitely feel my legs burning.  I was just so amazed by the quiet beauty surrounding us as we rode in the morning sunshine.  It was stunning, and I wish so much I'd had my camera!  I cannot wait to get Chloe and Ryan out there for a photo shoot!  And a picnic!  It just may be my new favorite place! 

When we got home I suggested we take a picture because I knew I'd be writing about this later and figured I could incorporate my picture of the day in with that same post.  Well, Neil was a bum and politely declined being in the picture.  So instead, you get to see one of me and my bike!  A dream come true, right?  If I'd actually taken any pictures today I'd post those over this one, but, well, I didn't.  So there you have it: yours truly.

Happy trails! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 10: My little Valentine

Today was Chloe's Valentine's party at preschool. 

I went to observe/help/take pictures, and had so much fun watching her interact with her teachers and classmates.  She is such a precocious little thing, and her teachers always have a story to share with me about the latest thing she said or questioned.  Each child had a turn passing out the Valentines they brought for their classmates.  Out of 17 children, Chloe was last in line to get to pass hers out.  A few times, especially near the end, she got pouty and wondered why her turn hadn't rolled around yet.  But just as quickly as she'd frown when yet another name was called, she'd smile when I winked at her from across the room.  And she did get her turn!  I think she enjoyed passing out Valentines more than she enjoyed receiving them!  It's no wonder really.  She's always had a giving heart.  I sure do love my little Valentine girl.

I have more pictures to share from the party, which I'm hoping to post tomorrow.  Goodnight, all!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 9: Year 9

Here's what 9 years together looks like.

{photos courtesy of Chloe}

And here are the two best things 9 years together have produced.
{taken this evening just before our first family bike ride in Ripon}

Thank you. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 8: I spy...

I spy with my little eye, 2 mini apple pies topped with freshly whipped cream leftover from FHE.

I spy with my little eye, a certain little boy who got to lick the beaters.

I spy with my little eye, Thomas the Train undies, worn by the same "certain little boy", who got to lick the beaters AND, might I add, who peed in the toilet today for the very first time (as well as on the toilet, on the shower door and on the floor). Triumphant!

I spy with my little eye, 2 laundry baskets...
...containing that same "certain little boy" who got to lick the beaters, who peed in the potty, and who thought it would be fun to hide under said laundry baskets with his sister, who agreed it would be fun and who giggled as I snapped these shots.

Just another glimpse into another day at our house...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 7: I think he's ready

Ryan has been showing genuine interest in the toilet for a few weeks now.  Today, on more than one occasion, I found him in the bathroom with no bottoms on.  Upon discovering him the first time, he had just submerged a quarter roll of toilet paper into the toilet and was getting ready to flush.  He warned us before his second trip, yelling, "I potty!  I potty!"  A minute or so after he'd made his run for it, I walked in and found him sitting contently on the seat clenching a wad of toilet paper in his left hand while another decent pile of it graced the floor below him.

Well, I had to get my camera. 

Neil and I are noticing a trend.  Ryan goes in his diaper and then instantly rushes to the bathroom.  He's getting the concept, we're just trying to help him understand the correct order or things: get to the bathroom before you go in your diaper, not after!

After Ryan finished up, we headed to Target to let him pick out some big boy underwear.  He was pretty stoked to see Cars and Toy Story 3 undies, but it was all over once he spotted Thomas the Train.  Hopefully his enthusiasm continues and we start making some progress!  I'll be honest.  The thought of diapers no longer playing a role in my every day life brings me great pleasure. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 6: Ryan Grant and Ryan Grant

I think this photo is appropriate for today's picture post seeing that it's Superbowl Sunday and the Packers were crowned champions!

Now I'm no Packers fan.  But here's kind of a fun story, which has given me a soft spot for these guys.  Ryan was born November 9, 2008.  We named him Ryan Grant after Neil's dad, Grant, who passed away when Neil was 6.  Ever since Neil and I were dating, we knew if we ever had a son, Grant would be incorporated into his name.  About 4 hours after Ryan came into this world, another Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers' running back, during a game against the Minnesota Vikings, scored a touchdown.  I still remember calling my brother, David to announce he had a nephew whom we'd named Ryan Grant.  He was watching that very game during our conversation and proceeded to share the coincidence about the NFL player.  As a result of this small coincidence, David got Neil this jersey the following month for Ryan's first Christmas.

So I found it fitting to take this picture today of Neil wearing Ryan Grant's jersey while holding Ryan Grant.

Good game, Packers!  It was a well deserved win!